HEARTY congratulations are due to all the winners of the annual report competition. To win, you needed to stretch the imagination, think of different ways of presenting information and have an understanding of accounting standards and the reason they exist. We are referring, of course, to the Lai See Annual Report Awards - given to firms which have brought exotic new interpretations of disclosure to the territory - and not the rival awards. The standard of the entries this year continued to be high. Despite a constantly moving target in the form of ever tightening accounting standards, many Hong Kong firms continue to present the results they wish to see. There isn't room in this column to list every little nuance in every company, so we've just plucked out a few examples that we think make it very clear why the territory's companies are still able to command the price-earnings multiples that they do. We would be delighted if any of our accountant readers could slide over a complete list of Hang Seng Index constituents, including their departures from accounting standards or any other suggestions for awards we should have handed out. Slippery THE Diamond Palace Massage Parlour Award for Profit Smoothing goes to Wharf Holdings. Wharf has a 27-year unbroken record of profit growth. And it hasn't just been financial acumen or the performance of the Hong Kong property market that has produced that record. No. Wharf has shuffled its year-ends, changed its accounting policy, and this year it took a perfectly innocent local property company, seized all its Hong Kong property and filled it up with Singaporean stuff from parent company Wharf. The company had to face howls of rage from minority shareholders in the other firm, but it got its way on a proxy vote. Crossly THE Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf Award for public rowing with the auditors goes to Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels. Even though the firm's annual report is 'qualified' by auditors for breaking Standard Accounting Practice Number 2 on classification of extraordinary and exceptional items, the firm has managed to win a prize in the Non-Lai See Report Awards. Flighty BY contrast, Cathay Pacific wins the Pas Devant Les Enfants Award for managing to almost completely hush up its little contretemps with the auditors. Cathay departs from Hong Kong Society of Accountants Practice Number 11 by having a special forex fluctuation account to hold unrealised exchange differences in until such time as they are settled. The rules say you should mark this to market but Cathay has managed to avoid the stigma of a qualified audit report thanks to an understanding outlook from the auditors. They don't disclose this 'departure' on the big board at Kai Tak - just in the notes to the accounts. Ghostly HOPELESS Fumblings, formerly known as Hopewell Holdings, has to get some kind of award. The report has pages of maps of roads that don't exist and diagrams of shopping malls that aren't there. Then there's the stuff shareholders discover only when the results appear. This year it was a six billion yuan (about HK$5.57 billion) overrun due to the additional cost of putting a long stretch of the superhighway on stilts. Chief executive Gordon Wu sees only opportunities from this - bad news, stilts cost more; good news, you can build more shopping centres under them. Whatever next? The big speculation is that Gordon will float some of his Philippines power projects. Well, it's worked once already. We award Gordon the Range Rover Award for High Gearing. Unsitely NEW entrants to the Hang Seng Index also win awards. Sino Land deserves a mention for its incredibly long-term view on the China property market. It has 10 sites in China. It did in 1991, too. But then the sites were scheduled for completion in September 1993. Then it was September 1994. No pictures of these sites, although we can imagine Robert Ng and a few property pals standing on the edge of their sites. 'The turnip field is my golf course?' 'No, no, the turnip field is my Sunny Wealth Village Plaza residential/commercial new town. The golf course is over there behind the World Trade Tower.' 'World Trade Tower? What tower? Oh, you mean the pak choi.' Spacey JOHNSON Electric deserves a mention for publishing a picture of what land purchases in Guangdong really look like. It has acquired a 65,000-square-metre site in Shajing, Shenzhen for a new factory. Property developers print pictures of the model of what is to be built, but Johnson shows the reality.